Portland's culinary heritage dates to 1825 - but the flavors are anything but old fashioned.
Vena's is the kind of place that has travelers raving after their visit, insufferably boasting to their friends that they have discovered the best little secret spot in the world. They wouldn't be wrong, except that Portland is packed with many "best little secret spots in the world" - shops filled with spirit (some literally, most figuratively). The city's amazing food scene isn't going to be a secret for very long.
Fast forward a few years and, when opportunity came knocking to return to Portland for a food tour, there was only one answer to give.
I thought I had a pretty good understanding on the finer points of cheese, but Kris introduced me to something completely new. Have you ever heard of cajeta? Please say no, so I don't feel like I'm the last person in the know about this yummy treat!
Cajeta is a delicious, gooey, caramel-like treat made from goat's milk. It's not exactly a cheese product, but it's not really milk either. It originates in Mexico and is not dissimilar to South America's dulce de leche.
It was the perfect topping for fresh fruit and excellent proof of how Portland's food scene uses old fashioned ingredients in new ways.
There's a drink on their menu called The Owls Are Not What They Seem, which includes espolon reposado tequila, barolo chinato, averna, and persimmon bitters. Did I have a chance to taste it? No. But I'm already prepared to declare it the best drink the world, based on name alone. And persimmon bitters? Yes please!
I can give a wholehearted personal recommendation to something I DID try. Sur-Lie's sweet pea hummus is one of their signature dishes and it tastes like spring in a bowl - in a really, really good way. If you're in Portland, order it and ask for the "owl" drink on the side and think of me!
Without really planning it, food tours have become an important part of my travel m.o. I love that they combine a tour of the city with a bit of history, a chance to meet other travelers - and, of course, there's the food!
Food tours have taken me to city corners I never would have discovered, encouraged me to sample food I would never have tried, and my travel experiences are the richer for it.
My food tour experience in Portland was no exception. You can follow in my footsteps (and experience even more) with Maine Foodie Tours - and not just in Portland!
We'd like to hear from you! Where would you love to experience a food tour?
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My visit to Portland was part of a press tour. All research, writing, and opinions are my own.